Edited by Kees Versteegh
[Language Ecology 2:1/2] 2018
► pp. 60–76
Not just a “language of power”
Français-Tirailleur is the conventional name for the French-lexicon pidgin used in France’s African army during the 19th and 20th centuries. Tirailleur literally translates as ‘rifleman’ or ‘sharpshooter’, but in time, and in practice, it came to refer specifically to indigenous colonial soldiers. The literature on the variety is anything but vast, but some publications are partly or entirely devoted it, almost invariably drawing on one and the same source (an anonymously authored phrasebook intended for use by French officers commanding African soldiers; Anon. 1916). Another thing most of them have in common is that they see the language as an instrument of oppression, and as we shall see, quite a few claim that the pidgin was even invented for this specific purpose.
- 1.Historical background
- 2.Did Français-Tirailleur exist?
- 2.1An example: Vigouroux (2017)
- 2.2Counter-evidence I
- 2.3Counter-evidence II: Comparing the anonymous phrase book with other sources